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YBAM opposes the Private Member's Bill to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act, 1965 

The Young Buddhist Association of Malaysia (YBAM) supports The Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism, and Taoism in calling for the rejection of the amendment of the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 (Act 355). As such the YBAM, as a national organisation representing 270 Buddhist groups throughout the country, gives its full support to all MPs and State Assemblymen who are opposing the amendment of Act 355. By rejecting this amendment, we will prevent the emergence of two different criminal jurisdiction systems in the country, thereby safeguarding our Federal Constitution.  

The amendment to Act 355 will greatly increase the upper limit of the criminal jurisdiction of the Syariah Courts. This will result in the country having different legal systems that will provide heavier sentencing for misdemeanor, and cause Muslims and non-Muslims who face similar charges to receive different or unequal punishments.  

YBAM also call on the Malaysian Buddhist community and the general public to speak up and oppose the implementation of any legislation pertaining to Syariah Criminal Law.  

If the bill to amend Act 355 is passed, a portion of the Syariah criminal law advocated by Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS) will be implemented immediately. This in essence will mark the beginning of a gradual process towards theocratic rule in Malaysia. If this amendment is passed, our country’s present legal system will disintegrate and our secular system will be destroyed. 

YBAM Urges a Peaceful Resolution

Friday, 24 February 2017 11:37
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YBAM Urges a Peaceful Resolution  

The Young Buddhist Association of Malaysia (YBAM) would like to express its deep concern over the recent investigation of the Dhammakaya Temple by the Thai Department of Special Investigation, and hopes that the Thai Government will handle the situation carefully based on the respect for religious freedom. 

The Prime Minister of Thailand has invoked powers available to him under Article 44 of the interim constitution to declare the temple and its surroundings to be under Government control temporarily. This led law enforcement officers to enter and search the temple on 16 February 2017. However, followers at the temple blocked the search, and called on the Government to lift the siege of the temple and suspend emergency law. A tense situation has arisen between the Government and followers of the temple.  

YBAM believes that the Thai government and devotees of Dhammakaya Temple should deal with the situation in a most amicable way in order to avoid the use of force that may lead to violence and injury. This is to avoid giving the public an impression of religious persecution by the Thai authorities.  

YBAM believes that the Thai government and the monks and civilians of Dhammakaya Temple will have the wisdom and compassion to ensure a peaceful resolution of the situation. We also hope that the situation will be resolved soon in order to avoid any negative publicity for Buddhism in Thailand, or Buddhism generally in the world.

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Malaysia's 10 major Buddhist organisations have met with the Finance Minister II, Datuk Seri Johari bin Abdul Ghani, to discuss recent amendment to the Income Tax Act resulting in the religious groups having to pay tax.

On the said day, the nearly 30 representatives of said Buddhist organisations who attended the session are from the Malaysian Buddhist Consultative Council (MBCC), Malaysia Buddhist Association (MBA) Selangor Branch, Fo Guang Shan Malaysia (FGS), Young Buddhist Association of Malaysia (YBAM), Buddhist Missionary Society Malaysia (BMSM), Vajrayana Buddhist Council Malaysia (VBCM), Theravada Buddhist Council of Malaysia (TBCM), Malaysian Fo Guang Buddhist Association (BLIA), Dharma Drum Mountain Malaysia (DDM) and Buddhist Tzu-Chi Merits Society Malaysia (TCM) Kuala Lumpur & Selangor Branch.

In addition to the Finance Minister II, Deputy Minister of Finance II, Dato Lee Chee Leong and the Political Secretary to the Prime Minister, Datuk Wong Nai Chee also attended the discussion.

During the meeting, Datuk Seri Johari said that the subject had been satisfactorily resolved. He also said all registered Buddhist groups would be exempted from the said tax, including interest on their fixed deposits, investments and rental, but he reminded all Buddhist groups to handle their accounts properly and to ensure that their funds are used to support religious activities only.

Datuk Seri Johari said the amendment was made to ensure that the public donations to religious groups are not for profit-making activities.

At present, Datuk Seri Johari said a guideline has been signed, adopted and gazetted that all religious groups will continue to enjoy tax exemption. Should there be any religious organisation encountering problems in tax matters, they may send a letter of inquiry or meet with Datuk Seri Johari to seek a solution.

Representatives of the organisations who attended the event were very grateful to Datuk Seri Johari for taking a timely approach to this issue so that the subject could be satisfactorily resolved.

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The Young Buddhist Association of Malaysia (YBAM) views with serious concern the recent attempted assault of Venerable Sri Saranankara, the Abbot of Sentul Sri Lanka Buddhist temple, by some unruly protestors.

According to news report, about 50 protestors had gathered and demonstrated outside the Sentul Buddhist temple after receiving hearsay that the former President of Sri Lanka, Mr Mahinda Rajapakse was going to visit the temple. We understand that the chief monk had clarified the rumour with the protestors but some protestors had hurled abusive language against the chief monk and even attempted to attack him but fortunately no one was injured in the alleged assault.
YBAM is highly concerned about this incident and condemns the unruly acts of these protestors for being so insensitive and disrespectful towards a place of worship and a senior religious teacher. We call upon all parties to show their respect for the sanctity and holiness of religious sites of all faiths, and similar respect must be accorded to all religious teachers.

Therefore the irrational act of these protestors must be censured and such act of provocation against a Buddhist temple and a senior Buddhist monk must stop immediately.

At the meantime, YBAM calls upon all parties to remain calm and be rational in dealing with any rumour to avoid further misunderstanding and alarm among different faith groups.

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The Young Buddhist Association of Malaysia (YBAM) welcomes the Government’s proposal to amend the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976. With the amendment, the civil courts will have precedence in mediating divorce and child custody cases of marriages registered under Civil Law to resolve interfaith child custody conflicts due to the religious conversion of the spouse.

YBAM agrees with the three principles of the government on which the amendments were proposed: (1) Any issues relating to divorce for civil marriages to be settled in the civil courts first to safeguard custodial rights and child maintenance until adulthood; (2) Both parties to have chance to resolve civil marriage issues at the civil court and continue with their new life after that; (3) Conflicts between the civil and syariah courts resulting from one party’s conversion to Islam to be resolved and legal overlap in existing laws to be overcome.

YBAM also urges the government to look seriously the bill tabled by Dato’ Seri Abdul Hadi Awang in Parliament on the amendments of Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 (Act 355) in May 2016. The Act 355 was enacted in 1965 to define the jurisdiction of the Syariah Court and restricted it as a District Court and to only have jurisdiction on minor personal offenses committed by Muslims, so that prevented the Syariah Court to be above Federal Laws.  However, after the amendments in 1984, the jurisdiction of Syariah Court has been expanded since then.

If the Act 355 is amended again, the Hudud Laws advocated by PAS will be enforced immediately, and the country will be ruled by theocracy.  This will lead to the collapse of the Secular System of the country.

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The Young Buddhist Association of Malaysia (YBAM) urges the Malaysian Buddhist community to support the “DEFENDING OUR CONSTITUTION, REJECTING HUDUD LAW OUR DECLARATION” campaign initiated by the Federation of Hokkien Associations Malaysia.  YBAM has also sent the correspondence to its member organisations in order to aid in collecting one million signatures.

In May 2016, Dato’ Seri Abdul Hadi Awang proposed to seek Parliament’s approval to present “Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) (Amendment) Bill, 2016”.  Both PAS and BN feel that this is only the amendment of the jurisdiction of the Syariah Courts, and is not related to the Islamic Laws, and the details of the amendments are still yet to be announced to the public.

The Sariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 draws the jurisdiction of the Syariah Court and its position as a District Court. The jurisdiction is limited to the minor crimes by individuals and prevents the courts to cross their jurisdiction to the Federal Laws. 

However, this law was amended in 1984, and the power of Syariah Courts was increased since then.

If the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 is amended again with immediate enforcement, then the country will be ruled based on the theocracy.  This will lead to the collapse of the Secular System of the country.

YBAM reprimands any initiative that condemn the National Constitution, including the bill to amend Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965.  YBAM urges the public to actively take part in the campaign, and relevant forms can be obtained from the YBAM Secretariat (03 – 7804 9154), or from the following website: http://fujianmalaysia.com/vote.php.
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